A US Republican lawmaker said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump, undergoing impeachment proceedings led by Democrats, has been treated worse than Jesus before his crucifixion, causing a stir on social media.
“I want you to keep this in mind: When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” Congressman Barry Loudermilk, who hails from the deeply conservative Bible Belt state of Georgia, told fellow lawmakers.
“During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats afforded this president and this process,” Loudermilk said, referring to the Roman governor of Judea who approved the death sentence.
Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, shot back that the president had been “given the opportunity to come and testify before the Judiciary Committee… He declined to do so.”
“Trump to Jesus” was soon trending on Twitter, but Loudermilk was hardly the only lawmaker to reference Jesus’ crucifixion during the day’s proceedings.
From the House floor, Republican congressman Fred Keller of Pennsylvania quoted Jesus’ words from the cross — “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” — in referencing those voting against the president.
James Martin, a Jesuit priest and US author posted on Twitter that he believed there were some differences in Trump and Jesus’ treatment: “Pilate had Jesus beaten and whipped, thrown into jail overnight, marched through the streets carrying his cross, and then nailed to that cross until he died.”
“Comparing the treatment received by the President to what Jesus suffered is absurd. Also, only one of them is sinless,” he said.
Charlotte Clymer, press secretary for US LGBT civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign, said that the president “might be confused because of Trump’s tendency to turn anything into whine.”
According to the Bible, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding.
The bitterly divided House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The matter now heads to trial in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold a 53-47 seat edge, and are expected to exonerate him.
The evidence for impeaching President Donald Trump for misconduct in office and obstruction is “overwhelming,” the final report on the House investigation into the US leader said Tuesday.
The 300-page report, meant as the basis for articles of impeachment, accused Trump of endangering national security and of an unparalleled effort to stifle the probe into claims he pressured Ukraine for dirt on a Democratic election rival.
“The impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the US government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection” next year, the report said.
“The president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the US presidential election process, and endangered US national security.”
The report, which will form the basis for the House Judiciary Committee to draw up formal charges, or articles of impeachment, in the coming weeks, spells out two key areas of wrongdoing by Trump.
In the first instance, it alleged, Trump, conditioned military aid and a face-to-face meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Kiev opening several politically-motivated investigations, including into former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 election race.
Secondly, the report said, Trump actively sought to obstruct the congressional probe, refusing to provide documents to investigators, preventing witnesses from appearing, and threatening some of those who did appear.
“The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress,” said the report.
“No other president has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent.”
In a statement, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham dismissed both the report and the investigation led by House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff.
“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” she said.
The report “reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”
The United States has formally notified the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, triggering expressions of concern and regret from other major powers on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump went ahead with the pullout despite mounting evidence of the reality and impact of climate change, with September the fourth month in a row with near- or record-breaking temperatures.
Washington presented its withdrawal letter to the UN on the first possible date under the accord negotiated by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, making the world’s largest economy the sole outlier from the agreement.
The US will be officially out on November 4, 2020, one day after the presidential election in which Trump is seeking a second term on appeals to the white working class.
Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated Trump’s rationale in 2017 that the accord would disadvantage US businesses.
“It was America that would suffer the straitjacket,” Pompeo told the Fox Business network. “It would be quintessentially unfair to the American people and to the American workers.”
Pompeo said in a statement that the United States would advocate a “realistic and pragmatic model” that included renewable energy but preserved a role for fossil fuels.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who unsuccessfully tried to persuade Trump to stay in the accord named for his nation’s capital, lamented the decision.
“We regret this and it makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on climate and biodiversity even more necessary,” the French presidency said as Macron visited China, the world’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.
Beijing also expressed “regret” over Washington’s decision ahead of the planned signing Wednesday of a joint document on climate by President Xi Jinping and Macron.
“We hope the US can take more responsibility, and do more to contribute a driving force to the multilateral cooperation process, instead of adding negative energy,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
Russia warned that the US withdrawal seriously undermined the Paris accord.
“Without the largest economy in the world, it’s very, very hard to talk about any kind of climate agreement,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The United States, the number-two emitter, is still planning to attend this month’s COP climate negotiations in Spain, according to a State Department official.
Trump rolls back action
Pompeo in his statement pointed to a 13 percent US reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2017 even as the economy grew.
But Trump, who took office in 2017, has pledged to turn back environmental regulations as states such as California and New York try to take stronger action on their own.
Trump has sought to block California from setting tighter standards on car emissions and moved to let states set their own standards on existing coal-fired power plants.
Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Trump administration has “once again thumbed its nose at our allies, turned a blind eye to the facts and further politicized the world’s greatest environmental challenge.”
Former vice president-turned-climate champion Al Gore deplored Trump’s decision — but said that a new president could re-enter the Paris accord within 30 days.
“No one person or party can stop our momentum to solve the climate crisis, but those who try will be remembered for their complacency, complicity and mendacity in attempting to sacrifice the planet for their greed,” Gore said.
The Paris accord set a goal of limiting temperature rises to well within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, a goal that scientists say is vital to check the worst damage from global warming such as increasing droughts, rising floods and intensifying storms.
Limited diplomatic effect
Contrary to some predictions, Trump’s decision did not trigger a domino effect of withdrawals by countries such as Brazil and Australia.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, an ideological ally of Trump, has belittled environmentalists but has held off on threats to withdraw from the Paris accord, with the European Union requiring adherence as a condition for a major trade deal.
Trump has cast the climate accord as elitist, saying that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
But a Washington Post poll last month found that even in his own party he faces growing opposition on the issue, with 60 percent of Republicans agreeing with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.
President Donald Trump said Sunday he wants to meet the anonymous whistleblower at the center of the scandal threatening his presidency.
Trump has been relatively quiet this weekend but in a series of evening tweets, he also blasted Democratic lawmakers and the media as he railed against the impeachment inquiry launched last week.
That probe was triggered by the release of a rough transcript of a July phone call in which Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a potential Democratic candidate in the 2020 US election.
He also enlisted his attorney general and personal lawyer to help in that effort.
The whistleblower filed a complaint over the contents of the conversation back in August, saying Trump had tried to get a foreign power to interfere in a US election for his own gain.
“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump tweeted.
He also said the de facto leader of the congressional inquiry, Adam Schiff, lied to Congress last week about what Trump said to the president of Ukraine and should be punished.
“His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber,” Trump tweeted.
“He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason,” he wrote.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he has fired his hawkish national security advisor John Bolton, saying he disagreed “strongly” with his positions.
“I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump announced on Twitter.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump wrote, saying he would name a replacement next week.
Bolton denied being fired and said he had resigned.
The news — coming days after Trump caused uproar by revealing he was canceling secret talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban — stunned Washington.
Bolton is a veteran and controversial figure closely linked to the invasion of Iraq and other aggressive foreign policy decisions. He had been seen as one of the main driving forces in the White House’s muscular approach to Iran, Venezuela and other trouble spots.
As often in the Trump presidency, the abrupt reshuffle appeared to contain an element of chaos.
Trump’s tweeted announcement came shortly after the White House press office had said Bolton would shortly be giving a press conference on terrorism issues alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Bolton himself disputed Trump’s version of events, apparently saying that the president had not fired him in person, as he claimed, late Monday.
“I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow,” Bolton tweeted.
President Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on Silicon Valley giants on Thursday with a call for “regulatory and legislative solutions” to what he described as unfair treatment of conservatives by major online platforms.
At a White House social media “summit,” Trump excluded internet firms from the gathering of conservative activists who have been curbed on social media.
But he said he would invite those companies in the coming weeks for “a big meeting and a real conversation” on the topic.
Speaking to his supporters, Trump repeated his argument of political bias, claiming some activists were blocked or limited on social platforms.
Trump, a frequent Twitter user who has more than 60 million followers on that service, nonetheless renewed his complaint over “terrible bias” on social media, and vowed a response.
He offered no specific proposal but said he was directing his administration “to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free speech of all Americans.”
The latest gathering has stoked fears that the White House may seek to eliminate the legal framework that protects online services from liability over harmful content posted by others but hosted on their platforms.
Digital rights activists and others warned that removing the protection — codified as Section 230 of a 1996 law — could undermine free speech protections and the internet ecosystem.
“The government shouldn’t require — or coerce — intermediaries to remove constitutionally protected speech that the government cannot prohibit directly,” said a letter signed by 27 civic and digital rights organizations and 50 academics.
The letter said such demands would violate the US Constitution’s First Amendment on free expression.
“Also, imposing broad liability for user speech incentivizes services to err on the side of taking down speech, resulting in overbroad censorship — or even avoid offering speech forums altogether,” it added.
Eric Goldman, head of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, said Section 230 had made the modern internet, and user generated content, possible.
“Today’s most popular social websites would never have taken off and the internet would look basically like cable,” he added.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter — who were not invited to the summit — discriminate against him and his supporters, even though his own Twitter account has nearly 62 million followers.
Big internet firms have roundly denied accusations of political bias.
But they also have faced pressure from governments around the world to remove abusive and hateful content as well as conspiracy theories, such as those promoted by Trump and his allies attending Thursday’s White House gathering.
“Internet companies are not biased against any political ideology, and conservative voices in particular have used social media to great effect,” said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, which includes Twitter, Facebook and Google.
“Internet companies depend upon their users’ trust from across the political spectrum to grow and succeed.”
Twitter said last month it would add warnings to tweets from officials and politicians that violate its rules — a move potentially affecting Trump’s prodigious output.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a trade group whose members include Facebook and Google, said the White House event “seems designed to intimidate companies to bias content in favor of whoever is calling the meeting.”
“No private company should be browbeaten by the government into giving a pass to objectionable content that violates company policies,” CCIA president Ed Black said in a statement.
“Social media sites may wish to allow many types of speech, but should not be required to stay neutral on hate or religious intolerance.
“If those airing grievances at this week’s meeting are unsatisfied with one company’s policy against objectionable content, there are plenty of competitors from which to choose.”
President Donald Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign on Tuesday much the same way he rode to power in 2016 — with a raucous, nationalist rally stirring fear of illegal immigration and vowing to fight for blue collar workers.
Lashing out at his Democratic opponents as radical leftists fueled by “hatred” and out to “rip your country apart, “Trump promised an “earthquake at the ballot box” next year.
“We did it once and we’re going to do it again,” he promised some 20,000 ecstatic supporters in Orlando, Florida.
“And that is why tonight I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States.”
There were no substantial new ideas or plans for the future in Trump’s nearly 80 minute speech in the Orlando arena, where the crowd formed a sea of Trump campaign red baseball caps, chanting “USA” and “Four More Years.”
Instead, the unconventional Republican made his reelection pitch by touting economic gains, renewing his longstanding vow to build a wall along the Mexican border.
In a speech filled with his customary boasts and rhetorical exaggerations, Trump did say — though giving no detail — that he would oversee cures for cancer and AIDS and pave the way to send US astronauts to Mars.
But the meat of his address aimed at the grievances and fears of the same white working and middle-class voters who underpinned his surprise victory as an utterly inexperienced politician against the seasoned Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Striking a dark note, Trump repeatedly encouraged the crowd to boo journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news.”
Then Trump turned on the Democrats, whom he said have “become more radical, more dangerous, and more unhinged than at any point in the modern history of our country.”
“They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it,” he said to roars of boos. “Not acceptable. It’s not going to happen.”
Even if dismal early poll numbers show he faces a difficult race, Trump goes into his fight buoyed by this fiercely loyal right-wing base.
Trump– himself accused by opponents of a slew of serious crimes — told the crowd that together they had formed “a great political movement” that had “stared down a broken and corrupt political establishment.”
“We are going to keep America great again,” Trump told the packed arena in Orlando, Florida. “Oh, we will keep it so great.”
Economy and immigration
Supporters lined Orlando’s downtown sidewalks all day, waiting in tents and chairs overnight to be the first in the door.
“This is a historic event, we would not miss this for anything,” one fan, David Meloney, told AFP.
Florida will be one of the key swing states in 2020 if Trump is to defeat the nominee chosen from a field of 23 Democratic hopefuls.
Trump’s strongest card is the current health of the US economy, which he described as “the envy of the world.”
But Trump said that the “American dream” itself is in peril from illegal immigrants, insisting that his stuttering Mexico wall project would still go ahead.
“Illegal mass migration brings in millions of low wage workers to compete for jobs, wages, and opportunities against the most vulnerable Americans, cutting off their path to the American dream,” he said.
Oddly, he did not mention his announcement earlier in the day that he was ordering the deportation of “millions of illegal aliens.”
The startling threat was announced in a tweet in the morning but quickly was followed by media reports that government officials had no idea what the president was planning.
Hours before the rally, the president had insisted that officials were in fact on board with the project.
“They’re going to start next week,” he told journalists at the White House.
Polls indicate tight race
After more than two drama-filled years at the White House, the fast-talking real estate salesman is betting that Republicans and enough centrist blue collar workers will turn out again in 2020.
But there’s no question that a lengthy probe into Trump’s murky dealings with Russia and his divisive, bruising style have left him wounded.
A wide range of polls showTrumplagging far behind Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, who is campaigning on a promise to return the country to what he portrays as the calmer, gentler days of Barack Obama, under whom he served as vice president.
Another big Democratic candidate, the left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders, scornedTrumpafter the Florida speech.
“Listening toTrumpmade me feel very much like he is a man living in a parallel universe… and is a man who must be defeated,” Sanders said.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed Biden leading Trump 50-41 percent in Florida, while Senator Bernie Sanders is up 48-42 percent over the president in the state.
Polls so far in advance have limited value and in 2016 they famously failed to predictTrump’s defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton. If anything, the surveys point to another bitterly fought, tight race.
But in a sign of frayed nerves, Trump has lashed out at what he calls “fake” polling, while multiple US media reports say that his campaign has fired several of its own pollsters.
The United States will start removing “millions” of illegal migrants next week, President Donald Trump said on Monday, adding that Guatemala is preparing to sign a safe third country deal.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
He added that “Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement,” an apparent reference to a pact in which migrants entering Guatemalan territory would have to apply for refugee status there, not in the United States.
The US is facing a surge in migrant arrivals from Guatemala and other impoverished Central American countries which are plagued by gang violence.
The numbers have overwhelmed the ability of US authorities to temporarily shelter and process them.
Trump has called it “an invasion,” and has made the fight against illegal migration a central plank of his administration.
Earlier Monday the US said it would not offer any more aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras unless they take “concrete actions” to deter undocumented migrants from heading for the US.
For fiscal 2019, $370 million initially planned will be allocated to other foreign policy priorities, the State Department said, and all future aid is now conditional.
“We will not provide new funds for programs in those countries until we are satisfied the Northern Triangle governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the US border,” Ortagus said.
Under a deal between the US and Mexico this month to avert threatened tariffs, Mexico agreed to deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen to reinforce its southern border, and to expand its policy of taking backmigrants as the United States processes their asylum claims.
“Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border,” Trump said on Monday.
Earlier in the morning, Trump had tweeted reported comments from Fox News host Sean Hannity which referred to “glowing reviews from the British media” of his trip to the UK for a three-day state visit.
He contrasted this with “hateful coverage” by TV network MSNBC which is regularly critical of the US leader.
Trump had joined Queen Elizabeth II and other leaders on Wednesday for a first day of commemorations in Portsmouth, southern England.
The president tweeted on Wednesday that he “could not have been treated more warmly in the United Kingdom by the royal family or the people”.
He left Britain for Ireland on Wednesday where he met Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon Airport for talks.
China accused the United States of “naked economic terrorism” on Thursday as Beijing ramps up the rhetoric in their trade war.
The world’s top two economies are at loggerheads as trade talks have apparently stalled, with President Donald Trump hiking tariffs on Chinese goods earlier this month and blacklisting telecom giant Huawei.
“We are against the trade war, but we are not afraid of it,” vice foreign minister Zhang Hanhui said at a press briefing to preview President Xi Jinping’s trip to Russia next week.
“This premeditated instigation of a trade conflict is naked economic terrorism, economic chauvinism, and economic bullying,” Zhang said.
“There is no winner in a trade war,” he warned.
China has hit back with its own tariff increase while state media has suggested that Beijing could stop exports of rare earths to the United States, depriving Washington of key material to make tech products.
“This trade conflict will also have a serious negative impact on the development and revival of the global economy,” Zhang said.
China and Russia have broad consensus and common interests on the trade war issue, he said.
“China and Russia will certainly strengthen economic and trade cooperation, including cooperation in various fields such as economic and trade investment,” Zhang added.
“We will certainly respond to various external challenges, do what we have to do, develop our economies, and constantly improve the living standards of our two peoples.”
Adidas, Nike, and PUMA on Tuesday urged US President Donald Trump to prevent the shoe industry from falling victim to the trade war with China, saying new tariffs could be “catastrophic.”
In a letter to Trump, those big name manufacturers joined forces with more than 170 other American shoe manufacturers and retailers calling for footwear to be exempted from a new round of punitive tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods.
In the escalating trade war with Beijing, Trump this month increased existing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent, and is threatening to extend those duties to nearly all Chinese products imported into the United States.
That would mean additional taxes on a range of consumer goods, including electronics and clothing, such as athletic shoes and iPhones, which has sparked fear in retailers and producers who rely on goods from China.
“The proposed additional tariff of 25 percent on footwear would be catastrophic for our consumers, our companies, and the American economy as a whole,” the letter from the shoe coalition states.
The firms said the industry already pays $3 billion in duties and that additional tariffs would increase costs and prices.
US consumers pay the price
“There should be no misunderstanding that US consumers pay for tariffs on products that are imported,” the companies said, refuting Trump’s frequent erroneous statement that China pays the tariffs, creating a windfall for the US Treasury.
While Trump has called on industries to move away from China or produce their products in the United States, the shoe industry firms said they need “years of planning… to make sourcing decisions and companies cannot simply move factories to adjust to these changes.”
The shoe industry — including other names like Reebok, Ariat and Crocs, as well as retailers like Foot Locker — is the latest to wade into the debate.
While many companies and industries want to see changes in China’s policies, including resolving the issue of theft of US technology, they oppose using tariffs as the primary weapon.
In a letter just after the new tariffs were announced, a group of 17 industry groups urged Trump to reconsider, given their reliance on China for goods.
“In 2017, China accounted for about 41% of all apparel, 72% of all footwear, and 84% of all travel goods imported into the United States,” the letter said.
The US Trade Representative’s office published a list of products that would be targeted by new tariffs, and has called for public comment, including a hearing set for June 17.
In prior rounds of tariffs, the White House granted exemptions for some critical products at the request of US industries.